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Many scholars have problematised the meaning that is nowadays attributed to the word salon, even if most of them still use it as a concept to study a specific female type of sociability. The regularity of the meetings, and the mixtures of gender, social groups and nationalities are mostly mentioned as the defining characteristics of a salon. Since these have a quantitative fundament it is surprising that most scholars only use qualitative methods. Analysing the receptions of the Italian countess Ersilia Caetani-Lovatelli, this article shows the value of quantitative research. It helps disproving old historiographical assumptions that are mostly related to the social composition and functioning of the gatherings. It also leads to a plea for using of the alternative concept of private sociability.